Cornwall is dotted with tourist spots across its length, mainly in the form of fishing villages, landscapes and harbours.
And something that may pass under your radar while planning your Cornish family holiday is that the county has airfields aplenty. Not only are these convenient to travel to, but they also represent a piece of the history of Cornwall.
Cornish airfields often feature training facilities as well for aviation enthusiasts, which can help them realise their dreams of becoming a pilot. Moreover, as a tourist, you can get an aerial tour of the surrounding region and gaze upon the wondrous Cornish peninsula.
So, let’s take a look at the best airfields to visit in Cornwall. Read on to learn all about what you can do in these fields, as well as the history associated with them.
7 Best Airfields To Fly To In Cornwall
1. Predannack Airfield
An aerodrome close to Mullion on the Lizard Peninsula, Predannack Airfield is currently operated by the Royal Navy. With wartime records aplenty, the airfield can serve as a great place to learn more about the Second World War.
At the main gate, you will find a monument dedicated to World War II. The plinth was established at the main gate in the aftermath of the war to commemorate those who lost their lives to wartime combat.
Currently, the airfield is primarily dedicated to training helicopter pilots of the Royal Navy. Additionally, it serves as the practice base of Royal Naval School of Flight Deck Operations, which includes drills like fire extinguishing practice on dummy aircraft.
And located to the west of the airfield are two somewhat detached cottages that can only be reached through the main airfield gate. One of the cottages was once home to the renowned painter and etcher Bryan Ingham, who had spent his twilight years there.
2. Perranporth Flying Club
Perranporth Flying Club is the only general aviation airfield in Cornwall that features a tarmac surface. With two licensed tarmac runways and a third being added soon, the airfield has plenty to offer for trainees and tourists alike.
You can visit the Perranporth airfield on any day of the week between 9:30 am and 5 pm. The closing time can vary based on the time the sun sets, so it’s best to visit the club well before the evening.
Perranporth airfield is also located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, so expect to find rare birds of prey, wildflowers and butterflies. There is plenty to explore in the club even while grounded, so keep your camera ready!
For the amateur aviation enthusiast, it offers Air Experience Flights that help them gauge how a real aircraft feels. You can become a member of the club for the Air Experience Flights, which lasts for three months. With over 100 club members that include other trainees and expert aircraft pilots, you will have access to plenty of help while training.
These trial lessons mark a crucial step to getting your own aircraft pilot’s licence, which can prove to be a valuable addition to their experiences. The club provides such students with trial lessons on a C172 lightweight aircraft.
Perranporth airfield played a significant role during the Second World War, with the airfield being used by squadrons of Spitfires, Avengers and Swordfish aircraft. Even before World War II, the field was used by aeroplanes as early as 1924, making the landing strip nearly a century old.
3. Bodmin Airfield
The home to the Cornwall Flying Club, Bodmin Airfield is a great place to explore during your family vacation in Cornwall. Offering a myriad of experiences that include Air Experience flights and aircraft pilot’s licence, the airfield aims to promote general aviation throughout Cornwall.
With a safe and friendly environment, visitors, tourists and aviation students alike can visit the airfield for an experience of a lifetime. The airfield is open every day from 9am to 6pm, so feel free to drop by anytime during your Cornish holiday!
For visitors and tourists, the airfield offers flight experiences that allow you to soar over the Cornish scenery. As a bonus, you may gaze upon the sights that the neighbouring county of Devon has to offer, thanks to the geographical position of the airfield.
The Cessna 172 and 152 aircraft that the airfield offers can easily reach the coastlines of either county within minutes of taking off. So, ready your cameras and strap in for a flight experience that you will never forget!
You can also learn to fly at the Bodmin Moor Airfield with a highly experienced tutor at the helm. Their enthusiasm can motivate you sufficiently to soar through the skies and get a thorough grasp of aircraft piloting techniques.
And once your training is complete, you can opt for a pilot’s licence that fits the chosen training. This includes the private pilot’s licence and light aircraft pilot’s Licence.
You can also find Diner 31 in the main building of the Airfield for snacks, coffee and lunch. Take a break from your flight lessons to feast on mouth-watering dishes made from local produce. The diner has vegan, vegetarian and special diet options as well, so don’t hesitate to order what suits you the best!
4. RAF Davidstow Moor
RAF Davidstow Moor is a site that is no longer being used as an airfield. Rather, it has been left derelict for quite a number of decades, giving it a haunted and eerie appearance.
Located 970 feet above sea level, the RAF Davidstow Moor is one of the highest airfields in the United Kingdom. From 1942 to 1945, the Davidstow airfield saw the most activity in its history serving as an active base for the Royal Air Force.
In fact, throughout its operating years, the field was used by the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Polish Air Force, American Bombers and the RAF. Sadly, the field was also the site of many fatalities during the Second World War.
Today, there is a war memorial in its place that is open from Easter until the end of October. The Davidstow Moor RAF Memorial Museum was opened for all to visit in 2003, and it has been educating people on its history ever since.
The buildings across its landscape have been left abandoned, which gives it a hauntingly beautiful appearance. And while some areas of the airfield are closed off to the general public, you can visit the museum to explore its safer parts.
Simply consult the War Museum to receive a guided tour of the place on Thursday afternoons at 2 pm. And if you crave food during your visit, you will have access to a do-it-yourself NAAFI for drinks and snacks like crisps.
These tours are held between July and the end of September, so be sure to plan your visit accordingly. The museum is also dog-friendly, so you can bring your furry friend along, provided that they are on a leash.
5. Land’s End Airport
The Land’s End Airport can be your gateway to exploring the flight services of Cornwall. You can fly to and from the Isles of Scilly on board a 19-seater plane, while getting a complete view of the pilot as they work.
While you wait for a flight, you can spend the waiting time at the airport cafe. Open six days a week throughout the year, the cafe has sandwiches, toasties, jacket potatoes, cakes and much more on the menu. The cafe is also dog-friendly, so your pets can have some fun in the area as well.
Dubbed “the Skybus”, the plane is an easy way to traverse across the seas, giving you plenty of time to take in the local scenery. After all, an aerial view is a different way of experiencing the landscapes of Cornwall.
You can view the Sennen Cove that lines the western Cornwall coastline on the Land’s End peninsula. The tropical blue waters and foaming waves give it a particularly breathtaking appearance.
Flying across the Land’s End, you will come across the furthest tip of the Cornish coastline. This dramatic sight is sure to make your heart beat just a tick faster. With dark blue waters striking the rugged cliffs, the sightseeing experience simply elevates to a new level.
Along the way, you may view the iconic longships lighthouse that serves to protect ships from the aforementioned rugged cliffs. The lighthouse is nearly 150 years old, and its striking silhouette can be viewed from far away.
Lastly, you will spot the collection of islands that make up the Scilly Isles long before reaching it. And watch out for the instantly-recognisable white passenger ferry as it crosses to St. Mary’s Harbour. Keep your eyes glued to the window, as you would not want to miss the iconic views of the Isles!
6. Cornwall Airport, Newquay
Located just a few miles away from Newquay, the Cornwall Airport is one of the largest airfields in Cornwall. If you’ve come to Cornwall from far away via a plane, it’s likely that you have passed through this airport already.
The commercial airport is ever-bustling with newly-arrived tourists and commuters and those ready to depart the county as well. Its geographical location makes the Cornwall Airport an easily accessible and convenient place to travel to and from.
That said, the Cornwall Airport began as a civilian facility that was converted into a military base during the Second World War. After the war ended, it was put into maintenance and then reopened as a Coastal Command base later on. In the early 2000s, the establishment ran as a dual civilian/military airport that consistently grew in size and scope to meet current standards.
You will find the well-trained and friendly airport team ready to assist you at any point to ensure the journey is as smooth as possible. Further, you can lounge in the cafe and grab a cup of coffee while waiting for your flight, or approach the bar for the spirits of your needs. The options are aplenty, and you are sure to leave satisfied with the travel experience.
In addition to various passenger services, the airport features a designated Enterprise Zone as a free development site in the UK.
7. Sherburn Aero Club
First opened in 1964, the Sherburn Aero Club is one of the largest flying clubs in England. The club has had a flight training school since the 1970s, and its scope has only increased ever since.
For tourists, aviation enthusiasts and visitors alike, the club is well-equipped to provide something for everyone. All members of the family can find a fun environment to experience flight as they continue to learn more about aviation. And for those who yearn to polish their flying skills, the experienced instructors of Sherburn Aero Club will happily provide you with flying lessons.
Additionally, if you already own a small aircraft and need it repaired or serviced, you can approach the flying club. You can purchase aviation equipment or a new aircraft at the club to further expand your horizons.
And to access flight lessons and additional perks, you can become a member of the Sherburn Aero Club. By becoming a member, you will have access to four runways, four hangars, a flight simulator and plenty of privately-owned members’ aeroplanes.
Currently, the club has over 600 members who can assist you in various ways throughout your training. Moreover, the club is a host to several events throughout the year to improve your flying experience.
The aircraft models to choose from include the 2-seater Cessna 150, the Robin 2160, the Piper PA-28 Warrior and the Piper PA-28 Cadet. You may use the Piper planes for basic exploration or advanced training, the Robin for learning aerobatics, and the Cessna for basic training.
In addition to on-site flying instructors, classrooms and meeting rooms, Sherburn Aero Club features a cafe, a children’s play area and a pilot shop. The shop includes toys, souvenirs, specialised clothing and the aforementioned aviation equipment.
Whether you’re an aviation enthusiast or someone with a taste for travel, the airfields in Cornwall have plenty to offer. Even those who only need to travel to or from Cornwall can find plenty to enjoy in airfields and airports.
As outlined above, the airfields in Cornwall cover a variety of experiences ranging from simple travel to flight lessons and air experience flights. The tourism experience is enhanced with an aerial view, making the Cornish airfields a must-visit during your holidays.
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